The FDA approved a glucose monitor that plugs into the iPhone, showing that mobile devices are increasingly become health-monitoring tools.
Developed by Sanofi and AgaMatrix, the iBGStar is the first blood glucose monitoring system to connect directly to the iPhone or iPod Touch, allowing people with diabetes to quickly test glucose levels and get immediate results from a phone.
Regulatory approval of the glucose meter cements Apple’s place at the intersection of mobile technology and health, highlighting the explosive growth in the mobile health field.
People with diabetes can test blood glucose with a compact meter accessory, which plugs into an Apple device to immediately displays results on its touch screen.
The “Diabetes Manager” app, available free from iTunes, then helps users track glucose readings over time, monitor carbohydrate intake and insulin doses and easily identify potentially troublesome spikes and dips in glucose levels. The monitor can also be used alone, then synced to the device at a later time.
The iBGStar meter isn’t the first health monitoring tool to integrate with iOS devices. A blood pressure cuff for the iPhone and iPad received FDA-approval earlier this year, showcasing how Apple’s devices are becoming tools to monitor the chronic health conditions that are on the rise in modern societies, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Research is also in the works that turn iOS devices into diagnostic tools. The iPhone’s sensitive touch screen could analyze tiny samples of saliva, blood or urine for signs of disease in the future, in effect turning the device into an at-home medical lab.
Health professionals themselves are using mobile devices in increasing numbers and are likely ready to accept devices like the iBGStar meter. As more mobile health tools pass regulatory approval, their deep integration with smartphones and tablets also has potential to lift barriers to doctor-patient communication, ultimately resulting in more efficient care.
For example, the iBGStar’s “share” function allows users to send glucose readings to their health care provider, opening a door for improved communication and more collaborative diabetes management.
Sanofi has long planned to sell the meter in the U.S., but has been awaiting pre-market approval from the FDA for nearly a year. The iBGStar glucose monitoring system is already being sold in Germany, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Italy, and is expected to be available in the U.S. soon.